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Front Page » October 14, 2010 » Carbon County News » Tempers flare at ECC council meeting
Published 1,816 days ago

Tempers flare at ECC council meeting

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Sun Advocate reporter

A testy exchange between a resident and the East Carbon City Council concerning multiple issues headlined the council meeting on Tuesday night.

Wayne Sprague, an East Carbon resident, went before the city council with three main issues he wanted to discuss including filing a police complaint, a billing complaint with a tenant and a problem with having a handyman license.

Sprague said that he was filing a formal complaint with the city stemming from an alleged incident that took place on Oct. 7 involving himself and East Carbon Police Chief Sam Leonard. Sprague presented the city with a letter with a detailed rundown of the incident in which he alleges that Leonard used profanity, intimidation, threats and was violating his constitutional and civil rights when Leonard visited his property with another resident to pick up a truck.

Also in the letter, Sprague requested that he would like Leonard "investigated and reprimanded" and wanted a written letter regarding the findings of the investigation and a written apology from Leonard. Sprague added during the meeting that he would like to see Leonard put on administrative leave during the investigation.

It was at this point when the heated exchanges between Sprague, Mayor Orlando LaFontaine and Leonard began to surface. More than half of the 44 minutes during which Sprague stood before the city council turned into a back and forth exchange between Sprague and LaFontaine.

LaFontaine said he would not be putting Leonard on administrative leave because of the shortage of officers in the city. City Attorney Jeremy Humes said he would like to review the complaint before the city makes a decision on the matter. He is not sure whether or not the city can deal with the complaint and they may need to have Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) review it.

Leonard at one point during the meeting was questioned about what officer would be on duty the following morning, but said he couldn't do anything because of Sprague's request for him going on administrative leave pending an investigation.

"I apologize for not being better prepared because I planned to bring a cheese platter to go along with all his whining," said Leonard. He then handed Sprague a piece of paper with phone numbers of the ACLU of Utah, Utah Police Academy and the Utah Attorney General's Office, telling Sprague if there was a problem to call them with his concerns.

The audience at the meeting broke out into laughter and began applauding.

Sprague and LaFontaine also discussed openly meetings they have had together in the past. LaFontaine said he has an open door policy for anyone who wants to come into his office and talk with him. Sprague said that LaFontaine hasn't listened to him during their meetings, instead threatening him with citations and charging him with disorderly conduct.

"You've never listened to what I had to say in all of those meetings. You've always just threatened me for disorderly conduct and threatened me with citation after citation," said Sprague.

"Oh, you want to bring that up?" said LaFontaine.

LaFontaine said that Sprague had previously come into City Hall screaming, including at people in the building, about issues he has been dealing with concerning the city. He said Sprague has come forward with several complaints about having chickens on his property, police complaints and with the city.

"I'm going to be honest with you, I'm getting pretty tired of everything going on because it seems like this is a topic every year that me and you got to talk about," said LaFontaine.

LaFontaine said that the city council needs to go by the books and follow complaints as such.

He also suggested that to Sprague that if the city is doing anything wrong the next step would be for Sprague to take everything up with the county

"I will not stand for anybody coming into this city hall and abusing anybody at that counter," said LaFontaine.

Sprague also said that he has been dealing with a problem with a tenant not paying a disputed water bill. He said the tenant went to City Hall and was given a billing history from Councilwoman Cheryl McFarland. Sprague accused McFarland of giving the assumption to the tenant that part of the bill did not need to be paid. The woman had receipts, wanted payment history of the bills and was given information about it, McFarland said. Sprague said he felt it was a civil issue and didn't feel the city should be involved, including giving out his information.

Sprague told the council that he owns several properties in town, but City Attorney Jeremy Humes researched the issue and said that Sprague is not the owner of the properties, but a property manager for another person who owns them.

To try and handle the situation with the tenant, Sprague said he had the city shut off the water because of the payment dispute. Council members were concerned about the issue and questioned whether or not Sprague had the right to shut off the water. Humes said that the situation is not viewed as a criminal case but it could be a violation of civil law.

That topic also brought the matter of a landlord ordinance. Sprague said it's been two years since the city has been trying to get a landlord ordinance, noting he was all for it. The ordinance deals with the landlord's relationship with the city and how the property is maintained, not dealing with landlord and tenant relationships which the city cannot get into, Humes said.

Sprague also asked about getting a handyman license to work on his properties. He said that he knows of other people in the city that are working on their properties without handyman licenses and permits. LaFontaine said the city would look into the issue. Humes suggested that the planning and zoning committee should schedule it for their next meeting.

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